U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut in New Haven. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
The parents of a 2-year-old Fairfield boy who ingested clear liquid lamp fuel oil have sued the manufacturer, claiming the company should have known its merchandise could be misconstrued as a container of water.
Oliver Cleveland was transported to a hospital in Maine after he ingested the liquid while the family was vacationing in July 2015, according to the federal lawsuit.
The 23-page lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven July 7, states the boy suffered “serious and painful injuries,” including, but not limited to, hydrocarbon poisoning; respiratory distress; difficulty breathing; iron deficiency; vomiting; and pulmonary vascular congestion.
The lawsuit alleges six counts against Hollowick Inc., the Manlius, New York-based company that manufacturers oil candles, oil lamps and cooking fuel. Those counts include breach of implied warranty, negligence and recklessness. The product is sold in stores and online across the country.
The lawsuit repeatedly cites the similarities between water and the liquid fuel oil and said there should have been warnings about its danger to young children.
The lawsuit states that Hollowick “knew or should have known that consumers would use” the product “as a candle in a residence, such as on a table and/or a countertop, and/or at parties, events or other gatherings where young children can be expected to be present.” In addition, “Hollowick knew or should have known that [the product] resembles a small beverage, such as water.”
Hollowick, the lawsuit states, “failed to ensure each candle was tamper proof and that a young child could not drink the lamp oil”; “failed to warn consumers and users of the dangers [of the product] and that it is dangerous, hazardous, and/or toxic, if ingested; and manufactured the product “to look like a child’s water bottle, without any requisite warnings of its contents.”
The lawsuit also lists Gadgets and Beyond LLC; Chef’s of Berlin LLC; and Chef’s Equipment Emporium LLC, formerly of Wallingford. The clear liquid lamp fuel oil was purchased by the family at those locations, which have since closed.
Oliver Cleveland, the lawsuit states, has incurred “expenses for his medical care and treatment, and may continue to do so in the future.”
The family is represented by Jason T. Prueher, an associate with Zeldes, Needle & Cooper in Bridgeport. Prueher wasn’t available for comment Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Hollowick declined to comment Thursday.
The case is scheduled to be heard in front of U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer.